An analysis of the 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Noynoy Aquino delivered July 22, 2013

noynoy_aquinoNo wonder the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III took all of 102 minutes. He tried to cover every bit of detail in what was an unstructured litany of statistics, examples, and anecdotes. But to the expansion of BS Aquino’s speech in duration was a reportedly marked contraction in the enthusiasm that greeted it.

Facing the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Aquino delivered a 102-minute, slightly longer than last year’s 91-minute SONA.

Lawmakers and guests at the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa however broke into applause 88 times during his speech, versus 120 times in his SONA last year.

A quick “analysis” of these statistics reveals that a 12% increase in the SONA’s duration was matched by a 26% decline in applause.

What do these numbers mean?

Frankly I don’t know. Perhaps they don’t mean anything.

Just like the statistics above, people are left scratching their heads as to what exactly is the overarching meaning in this year’s SONA. President BS Aquino’s 2013 SONA read out like a computer data dump — like a list of binary digits printed out on reams of computer paper. They were dots that haven’t been connected. And when you behold a hundred-odd dots and no lines drawn between them, you can’t really say that a picture’s been drawn.

You’d expect of a Chief Executive a report that uses the statement of strategic vision that defines his administration as the overarching context of any “achievement” he enumerates. In the case of President BS Aquino, the notion of the “straight path” or daang matuwid defines the current presidency under the premise that if there is no corruption, there is no poverty; i.e. Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap.

So, sure, more books were delivered more cheaply, more classrooms are being built, less rice is being imported, more crops will be planted in between coconut harvests, more roads will be built connecting fishermen to richer waters, illegal fishing practices will be cracked down upon, squatters will be removed and prosecuted, PhilHealth membership will be expanded, hospitals will be modernised, disaster preparedness will be enhanced, more storm drains and anti-flooding measures built, more public housing will be built, lots of Glocks were given out to cops, this year’s elections were “more peaceful”, some cop stopped to help change a flat tire in Quezon Boulevard, a deal was cut with the Bangsamoro, more phones will be strung out to the hinterlands, choppers and ships were bought for the military, some new laws were enacted, more power plants built…. Yadda yadda yadda

What does it all mean?

It comes across as a badly-written job description — Government’s job description.

What President BS Aquino spelt out in the 2013 SONA in essence is a list of things that we all assumed government was doing all the while — doing its job. What government would not build more classrooms when its student body increases in size? What government does not aspire to arm its cops and soldiers, connect as many of its citizens’ homes to a communications network, improve access of its producers to raw materials and energy sources, either make deals with or crush to smithereens groups that pose threats to security, or strive to keep its biggest cities humming efficiently?

President BS Aquino’s SONA makes it looks like getting government back to the task of doing the job it was supposed to be doing all the while is such an astounding achievement. To be fair, this is of course the Philippines, where doing jobs properly and returning bags of cash left in taxi cabs to their distraught owners are regarded as pinnacles of Pinoy achievement. In that sense, credit goes to BS Aquino then if he has in the last three years, put enough rockets up enough bureaucrats’ asses to get things running at pwede na yan standards of service as he reports in this SONA. At least then, as the President keeps asserting every other paragraph of his speech, no “problems” will be “handed down” to his “successors”.

Pwede na yan.

You’d expect then that at the mid point of his term, the question of whether the Philippines is a less-corrupt country and whether this being less-corrupt has translated to less poverty will have been answered by the mid-term SONA.

Unfortunately for BS Aquino I do a better job of answering the question of whether BS Aquino’s government has delivered to its kung walang kurap, walang mahirap vision. This I did in a previous article that, in our usually exceptional prescient form, anticipates what the SONA will neglect to address. Quite simply there was a one-point improvement in corruption perception in the Philippines and a fair upgrade of its ranking. However, there was only a small increase in the Human Development Index, and debatable movement in the proportion of the economy dependent on OFW remittances. So did poverty decrease as a result of changes in corruption perception? The statistics are there but the conclusions will forever be debatable.

Even with this straightforward report of ours the simple elegance of which dwarfs the enormous convolution of BS Aquino’s 102-minute speech, one cannot rely on statistics nor on a litany of “accomplishments” to make a sound assessment of how much has really improved for the average Filipino. Even more impossible is the making of any convincing assertion that such accomplishments were fully attributable to a sitting president.

In the closing part of the speech, what BS Aquino calls “our SONA”, the following words were said…

The road ahead of us is long; and we never said it would be easy—or that we could tread this path free of challenge. But I do not doubt our capacity to overcome any obstacle. We did not achieve our current success by chance. Let us not allow this transformation to be temporary; let us seize this opportunity to make the change permanent.

In light of what we’ve concluded here — that overall success is debatable considering the litany of unconnected dots delivered, and that whatever success that is reported cannot be convincingly fully attributable to any one sitting president — the only thing we could say about the above is that a lot of assertions were made on the back of shaky assumptions. More importantly, the final call to action, that we “seize this opportunity to make the change permanent”, all but rings hollow when we look back and take stock of the Filipino’s track record of doing just that.

[Photo courtesy The Summit Express.]


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62 Comments on "An analysis of the 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Noynoy Aquino delivered July 22, 2013"

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Sorry but that was his slogan. That he would take on both poverty and corruption. He is at half time of his term. Does that mean he should have the two monumental problems half licked? Or maybe that was a bad choice of verbs considering who we are discussing. We are over 3 1/2 years removed from when he started campaign and he started making those grandiose promises. It will still boggle my mind that many people believed he could come through on those promises when his track record showed little evidence on him coming through on anything. So I… Read more »
One thing that has never been discussed or emphasized is the fact that the government has spent nearly 2T pesos (as its budget, yearly) to achieve the so-called economic growth the country showed over the last year or so. GMA, in her time, brought our country to a 7+ growth yet just spending below the 1T budget. The question is, where are we getting the money to sustain these huge government expenditures? PNOY will submit a 2.3 T Budget this year and I do not see any additional source of the country’s income that could pay for these expenditures? I… Read more »
nadismaya ako sa nabasa ko sayong inilathala. sa tingin mo ba wala talagang nagawang mabuti ang Presidente? ano bang nagawa mo para sa bayan? mangutya? kung bigyan ka kaya ng isang taon para mamuno bilang isang presidente, magagawa mo ba ang mga tungkulin mo? anong mga panukala kaya ang maibabahagi para masulusyunan ang kakulangan ng enerhiya? may nai-suggest ka na bang paraan para mailipat ang mga informal settlers? lahat nalang isinisisi ninyo sa iisang tao. ikaw ba may nagawa? di naman porket nangako sya ng sangkatutak sa taong bayan noon bago pa man sya mahalal eh matutupad nya lahat yon… Read more »

I feel sorry for the armed forces…parang, anu ipapatigil nya ang modernization at ipamimigay sa mga palamunin….eh d walang salita sya sa sinabi nya noong last na SONA….wheres the maestrale that he promised, what about the FA-50, what about the rehabilitation and upgrade of the old assets…

Hyden Toro

They were all: lies, delusions, and more lies…
The country became even worse under the Aquino administration. Tourism rises, along with the rise of child prostitutions…


Very well, view differs from different perspective, but I am delighted with the progress. Doesnt matter how people look at it, it is PROGRESS and nobody can deny it.


For the last 24 hours or so GRP been inundated with first time commenters or commentators speaking entirely in Tagalog basically saying the same thing. All discrediting the blog. Either part of the Ricky’s master strategy or that is all they can hire at this point.


Unstructured, uninformative, and uninspiring.

The usual back-slapping and self-congratulatory tone, but with FoI being a dead duck, and no mention of PDAF scandals then its back to snouts in the trough and an increase in inequality, and with no economic constitutional reform don’t expect inclusive growth to actually happen.

The only constant will be more deceit, propaganda, and surveys

william jacinto juan

As a “Boss”, I’m still not satisfied although I believe that P’Noy might have done quite well so far in the fight against GRAFT & CORRUPTION but there are still many important things that need to be done such as the Transparency Bill, scrapping the corrupt pork barrel system, rationalizing the corrupt election process, among others… may I share with everyone my own political advocacy… Mabuhay ka Pilipinas!…

Thomas Jefferson
We are now a dysfunctional democracy. Thanks to BS Aquino. The tyrant now controls the lower house and the senate. So much for co-equal and co-independent bodies under the Constitution. BS uses the extreme, persuasive power of the purse to create a rubber stamp congress. He even puts down the opposition using the same strategy. Mr. Aquino achieved full control of the senators and lower house congressmen. All this without firing a shot or declaring Martial Law. Where are the patriots and mavericks of the Congress? Where have they all gone? The repeat propaganda slogans, manipulated surveys, deceit and illusion… Read more »
Thomas Jefferson
There is one incident that gives me and pro-democracy people the shivers. This is coplan armado a.k.a. the plan that launched the Atimonan massacre. I have a legal question to ask… BS Aquino is also the commander-in-chief. He ordinarily approves and gives the green light to plans. He gave the green light to the operation and this resulted in mass murder. My question is… under the doctrine of command responsibility is Mr. BS Aquino liable to be charged with multiple murder along with the soldiers and police who committed the same? Is there a conspiracy angle? Any lawyers out there?

[…] Analysis of the Fourth State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy Aquino basically states that Presidential term launched by hazy goals has produced hazy results. […]


There was an English translation so I read it, apparently the current administration is blocked from merging highways, there’s a serious road blocker owned by a crony of Marcos and every time it’s built upon there’s 30 year extension? I’m thinking why can’t something be done about this?

Lord Chimera

It would seem that BSA just wasted everyone’s time for 102 minutes. then again wasting things is what he’s good at.

hi, i agree with u Juan, oo nga kng makpanhusga tau, para naman tau ai may nagagawa, kng sa paaralan nga lng ung guro d nia mapatahimik ang sampo na estudyante sa kguluhan nila, ano pa kaya c pangulong noynoy na halos lahat iintindihin nia at pg my d xa natupad sa pangako nia ciniccsi natin sa kanya lhat ng problema. simple lng naman disiplina sa ating sarili, bago naman kau manhusgawa sa kng ano ang ngawa ng ating pangulo ay itanong u muna sa sarili niyo kng ano ba ang nagawa mo para sa ikabubuti ng bayan,ng pilipinas. critizicing… Read more »

The R.P. is fucked, yes FUCKED! and no ONE is going to be able to change that. if you are ALL not going to do what needs to be done (see Greece/Bulgaria/Spain) then just get out of the country as quickly as you possibly can.
The RATS have already left the sinking ship that is that HELL-HOLE country.don’t get left behind.




I noticed, Domo has kind of become a troll, and often disregards/disrespects any other opinions. I feel you only want to make people feel bad.


[…] regime into a system which can serve the people; PNoy deserves credit for that. Of course, it can be argued that a government system should always work like this. Why should corruption-free, efficient […]